Washington, Jan ary 27: Like the chicken pox or fifth disease, a bout of "Bieber Fever" is a childhood passage for many young girls, according to a Kansas State University family studies researcher.
Moreover, it's a way to explore their sense of identity, said Karen Myers-Bowman, associate professor in the College of Human Ecology's School of Family Studies and Human Services,.
Myers-Bowman, who specializes in children's understanding of and parent-child communication about complex issues such as sexuality and war, said the squealing, crying and frequent Facebook updates symptomatic with "Bieber Fever" and crushes on other male celebrities is less about young girls' physical attraction to the celebrity and more about understanding themselves and where they fit in society.
"What we know about adolescents is that they're trying to figure out who they are. The way they do that is through their relationships, including those that are crushes on unobtainable celebrities," Myers-Bowman said.
Those relationships-real and imagined-help youth decide what qualities and characteristics are important to them in a partner, Myers-Bowman said. Additionally, that celebrity crush occurs in the context of the teen girls' relationships with peers, as youth can explore how they relate to others, how they are similar and different from others, and what their values are.
"If you and your best friend swoon over a celebrity together, then it's helping you figure out where you fit with your friends and with your peers. But, for example, if all your friends like Ryan Gosling and you like Sean Connery, you get to feel what it's like to be different from everyone else, and you get to process those feelings," Myers-Bowman said.
Young boys are not immune to celebrity crushes, Myers-Bowman said. The major difference, though, is that boys are more reluctant to talk about these crushes-especially with their fathers.
According to Myers-Bowman, teenagers' crushes on celebrities emerged in the 1950s and 1960s as television, popular music and movies became more widespread, influential and aimed at teenagers. The proliferation of the Internet and mobile technology has only increased that influence. (ANI)